Strong Beer Festival 2011
The weather on Saturday was less than enjoyable, especially when taking gusting winds, a steady pouring rain, and temperatures that refused to rise above 50º into account; yet, somehow, it was endurable at Steele Indian School Park. At least a thousand people darted from tent to tent trying to stay somewhat dry despite the massive muddy puddles forming in the pathways, huddling together in packs with little plastic mugs full of delicious craft beer. Some people ripped holes in trash bags and wore them as modified ponchos while others just gave in to the weather and trudged around soaked to the bone – still others believed the weather predictions and wore rain jackets and boots. As the weather worsened, tables and chairs were tossed from the larger tents while people crammed themselves underneath for any bit of warmth and dryness they could find.
The most remarkable thing of the day, however, was that nobody lost their temper. No cliched “bar” fights broke out, no frustrations at the uncomfortableness offered up by the odd February weather were taken out on others, and there was very little physical or visible unhappiness in general. Even when Sonoran Brewing Company did a special pouring of their limited Sonoran 200 at 2:30 – creating a flash mob and a wall of people in front of the tent – many people walked away disappointed after the beer ran out, but more often than not, they asked for more information about the brew and even set a goal to find some on their own. By the end of the day, people were mulling around in the open, modified ponchos and legs caked in mud, as well as a few umbrellas all getting along, laughing, and animatedly discussing whatever was in their mug. Behind SanTan’s tent, a bean bag toss was set up and people played all the way through the event. Cigars were handed out here and there, music was a welcome upbeat constant in the background (or the foreground if you made it back to the tent), and random cheers rippled through the crowds as the day wore on. All of these people came for one reason and they stayed for that reason, despite the odds stacked against why a festival should happen. If anything, this year’s Strong Beer Festival is further proof that great craft beer is a fantastic conversation starter as well as enough of a reason for people to endure terrible weather.
When it rains, it pours! Cheers!